Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 3, 2017 · 49 comments

Yes, this post published twice, but since they both have comments, I’m just going to leave them as is.

  1. My sister and I continued our parallel playing to include the library that’s just a few blocks from her house in the Bronx. It’s decidedly not the spendlor of yesterday’s library on Fifth Avenue, but it turned out to be a great place where my sister could study and I could focus on writing. And when we started to get tired, I was able to pick up a couple of $1 coffees from the deli across the street. NYC might have a reputation for being expensive, but it can be insanely cheap once you venture away from the touristy areas and hipster neighborhoods.

  2. I convinced my sister that we should visit the New Rochelle Goodwill that’s just north of The Bronx, even though it was almost 8 P.M. and a mere hour before closing. Although I didn’t locate anything that I’m currently keeping an eye out for, I did find a Patagonia down jacket in my sister’s size for just $9.99. This may not sound like an uber-bargain, but this same coat currently sells for $229, and is the perfect cozy New York jacket. I’ve been keeping an eye out for a coat like this for myself, but was happy that at least it fit her.

  3. I enjoy doing household tasks for my sister that she has zero-point-zero time for, as she’s a full-time student, wife and mother. Although I didn’t show up with a hostess gift, I’ll leave her with a cleaner more organized house. This costs nothing to accomplish and it’s vastly more appreciated than a bottle of wine or a pretty dust collector.

  4. Today was a decidedly non-touristy and extremely frugal endeavor, but tomorrow will bring us into Manhattan where my niece has a appointment in the morning and my sister has an afternoon event at the Museum of Natural History. I’m not sure what we’ll be doing in between, but I do know that we won’t use it as an excuse for recreational shopping. (My preference would be to find a nice spot to quietly write, but I think that would be a hard sell.) Luckily the weather forecast is for a dry day in the mid-50°s, so I can safely anticipate lots of walking.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar позолоченная квартира в небе.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 49 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 3, 2017 · 10 comments

  1. My sister and I continued our parallel playing to include the library that’s just a few blocks from her house in the Bronx. It’s decidedly not the spendlor of yesterday’s library on Fifth Avenue, but it turned out to be a great place where my sister could study and I could focus on writing. And when we started to get tired, I was able to pick up a couple of $1 coffees from the deli across the street. NYC might have a reputation for being expensive, but it can be insanely cheap once you venture away from the touristy areas and hipster neighborhoods.

  2. I convinced my sister that we should visit the New Rochelle Goodwill that’s just north of The Bronx, even though it was almost 8 P.M. and a mere hour before closing. Although I didn’t locate anything that I’m currently keeping an eye out for, I did find a Patagonia down jacket in my sister’s size for just $9.99. This may not sound like an uber-bargain, but this same coat currently sells for $229, and is the perfect cozy New York jacket. I’ve been keeping an eye out for a coat like this for myself, but was happy that at least it fit her.

  3. I enjoy doing household tasks for my sister that she has zero-point-zero time for, as she’s a full-time student, wife and mother. Although I didn’t show up with a hostess gift, I’ll leave her with a cleaner more organized house. This costs nothing to accomplish and it’s vastly more appreciated than a bottle of wine or a pretty dust collector.

  4. Today was a decidedly non-touristy and extremely frugal endeavor, but tomorrow will bring us into Manhattan where my niece has a appointment in the morning and my sister has an afternoon event at the Museum of Natural History. I’m not sure what we’ll be doing in between, but I do know that we won’t use it as an excuse for recreational shopping. (My preference would be to find a nice spot to quietly write, but I think that would be a hard sell.) Luckily the weather forecast is for a dry day in the mid-50°s, so I can safely anticipate lots of walking.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar позолоченная квартира в небе.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 10 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on December 2, 2017 · 48 comments

  1. Yesterday was a full-on travel day from Portland, Oregon to Newark, New Jersey. And although the flight itself was a dreamy non-stop endeavor, the day itself was long, long, longity long, as my hostess-with-the-mostess sister lives in The Bronx, not Newark. She had classes at her college in the aforementioned Bronx that afternoon/evening, which meant that my public transportation adventure included the tram, the railroad, the subway, the subway, the subway and a wee bit of walk just to meet up with her. So yes, a loooong day! However, hooray for New York/New Jersey’s amazing public transportation!

  2. I had an odd assortment of almost empty NYC Metrocards, which I consolidated into a single card totaling $5.49 which was enough for two subway trips. The crazy thing is that they all expired exactly yesterday! So random.

  3. I was able to assist with a fellow passenger’s medical issue during my flight from Portland to Newark, which I was happy to do. In return I was issued $50 in airline credits as well as four adorable bottles of gin. (Is there a name for a grouping of gin bottles? If not, may I suggest a “genius of gin” or “gerbil of gin.”) I didn’t actually drink on the plane as A) I like to keep my wits about me when traveling alone, B) I rarely drink and C) It’s a terrible idea to identify first responders and then get them drunk. However . . . hostess gifts!

  4. I prepared all my own food for yesterday’s flight and packed it in my handy Goodwill Outlet lunch bag. (It’s super light, so I probably paid around 20¢ for it.) I overpacked food, which worked out well as my sister’s classes didn’t end until 10:10 P.M. and I like to snack. Of course I brought my own reusable water bottle and coffee mug which saw their fair share of action throughout the day.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky. Even though I did walk past one today, and I do have to say that my creaky 103-year-old bungalow trumped its vulgar opulence.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 48 comments }

A NYC Writer’s Retreat

by Katy on December 1, 2017 · 7 comments

The Rose Room ceiling of the New York City library on Fifth Avenue provides the perfect writing environment.

I’m currently in New York City visiting with my sister, which turns out to be an extremely frugal way to travel/rationalize a vacation by reframing it as a “writer’s retreat.” Sure, I paid $241 for a round trip ticket, but I’ll make sure to knock out some paid writing. But more importantly, I’ll work on a book proposal that’s been thwarting me for almost two shameful years.

Distractions of home? Banished!

However, I don’t want to squander the sights of New York, so I’m engaging in a category of tourism titled “Destination Writing.” Which essentially means that I’ll take my laptop to unique/inspiring/minimally distracting locations to work under the glow of history/inspiring architecture/coffee/close access to a subway stop/indoor plumbing.

My sister is currently a full-time student, which means that her free time is beyond nonexistent. However, I think I can rope her into my writing adventures, as I feel this is the perfect opportunity for us to parallel play towards our independent goals.

Today was day one of this plan, which due to circumstances related to accepting a lunch invitation from a dear old friend nutritional needs didn’t actually begin until 2 P.M.

Today might not end up as my most productive writing day, but only because I’m feeling the effects of a long travel day and some significant jet lag. Definitely not from eating a large and indulgent lunch.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 7 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 27, 2017 · 137 comments

  1. Yesterday was the last day of my sons being home from college, and I wanted to put together a nice brunch for them. I walked to the grocery store to buy bacon, but otherwise assembled everything from grocery staples on hand. I baked up a small blueberry coffeecake, which used up the last of some streusel topping that had been sitting in my freezer for ages, (I’d made too much for a different recipe) and then scrambled up some eggs. The smell of bacon and coffeecake pried them from their beds and I was even able to send my older son off with leftovers for his long drive back to school. The coffee cake was deliberately small, as I didn’t want unhealthy leftovers after days of Thanksgiving gluttony. Urp . . . . 

  2. I sold some thrifted Christmas stripe Hanna Andersson pajama bottoms on eBay and packaged them up in a padded envelope that my husband had just received in the mail. Actually, I used half of the padded envelope, as it was pretty big and I figured I could get double usage from it. My next door neighbor let me know that she had a stack of used envelopes for me. Hooray for reuse and free shipping supplies!

  3. I’m starting to get organized for my week in NYC. It’s tempting to use this as an excuse to buy new stuff, but instead I’m figuring out how to make use from what I already own. Living in Portland, Oregon I don’t own a winter coat that can handle New York style low temperatures. However, it looks like the next week is forecasted to be in the 50’s, which is well within my outerwear’s limitations. I probably should own a serious winter coat, but I’d prefer to find one for just a couple of dollars, which requires some platinum level patience. (Heck, I’ve been very impressed with the Goodwill near my sister’s grocery store, so maybe I’ll luck out there.) Either way, I’m not falling prey to the mindset that travel should trigger a bunch of new purchases. And souvenirs to bring home? Those’ll be chocolate covered cannoli from one of the many Italian bakeries in the Bronx. (The chocolate covered ones don’t get soggy so quickly.)

  4. I’m not spending the day scouring the internet for super ah-mazing Cyber Monday deals. Everyone on my gift list already owns more than their fair share, and want or need for zero additional items in their homes. It doesn’t matter if a $300 item has been marked down to $100, it’s still $100 that you no longer possess. Don’t go broke in the name of saving money.

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 137 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 25, 2017 · 91 comments

  1. I sold three eBay items on Thanksgiving and packaged them up in free used shipping materials. I then dropped them off at the post office on my way back from dropping my son at a friend’s house. (Batching errands.) The eBay app on my phone makes a “cha-ching” sound whenever a payment comes through, and it’s just as dopamine-tastic as the obnoxious but oddly satisfying bells and whistles on a Vegas slot machine. (All the fun of a gambling addiction without the heartbreak.) I did buy a book of the Ezra Jack Keats Snowy Day stamps while at the post office that I’ll gift to my sister for her birthday. (She’s too busy with pre-grad school to read the blog.)

  2. Yesterday was Black Friday here in the United States, but I didn’t set my alarm to scoop up any 75%-off 5 A.M. deals. Instead I slept in and then puttered around the house and ate my way through a tremendous amount of leftovers. (This particular cheesecake stalked me throughout day.) My father stopped by in the afternoon and we enjoyed tea, conversation and yes, cheesecake. I put together a couple of eBay listings as shopping season is apparently upon us. There’s nothing frugal about buying stuff at Goodwill “to sell,” and then letting it languish in what’s referred to as a “death pile” in the eBay community.

  3. I put out the word in my Buy Nothing Group that I wanted uncut pumpkins for puree and then life got in the way. I finally picked up a couple on Wednesday night and baked one up, which provided a full ten cups of yummy pumpkin puree. I used four cups for two pies, and then froze the rest in two-cup portions for future use. I still have another enormous pumpkin to precess, as well as an acorn squash. (Since Target sells a small can for $1.69, this one pumpkin saved me $16.90.)

  4. I lent my stock pot to a neighbor, I gathered a full grocery bag of random stuff to drop at Goodwill, I considered setting up my garbage picked artificial Christmas tree and then decided to wait as I have about a week, maybe a week-and-a-half of looking at Christmas decor before I activate Scrooge mode. 

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 91 comments }

The following is a reprint of the previously published post.

I’m a lucky person. Why? Because I was lucky enough to be born into a country that values workers’ rights. As a hospital nurse, I take for granted that my enormous hospital has multiple fire extinguishers, fire doors, fire prevention protocols and policies that keep both people and structure from igniting.

Were Americans always so lucky?

No.

The industrial revolution hit our cities hard, and the influx of fresh immigrants meant that labor was both cheap and easily replaceable. Complain about your working conditions? Well there were many others who would be happy to take your job, so keep your mouth shut or get fired was pretty much the policy around the turn of the last century.

The New York City 1911 Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire was a wake up call to America industry, and it allowed for the union movement to start bringing safe and reasonable working conditions to our workers. Child labor, unending work hours, locked work spaces and other blatantly unsafe working conditions finally got the scrutiny they deserved.

It wasn’t immediate or easy, but unions brought safe workplaces to America.

Problem solved, right?

Wrong.

American manufacturers, now saddled with  the cost of paying working wages built overseas factories in countries that did not require the same workplace safety measures. Where cheap unending labor was once again easy to find and where abject poverty was the norm.

I wrote in 2010 about a factory fire in Bangladesh that killed a least a hundred people, where most deaths were attributed to workers jumping from upper story windows because a gate to the stairwell was locked.

Read that again, the stairwell was locked.

This garment factory was producing clothing for Gap, JCPenney, H&M and Wal Mart.

And now the story of another Bangladeshi garment factory fire has hit the news. 

“The Tazreen fire is the latest in a series of deadly blazes at garment factories in Bangladesh, where more than 700 workers, many making clothes for U.S. consumers, have died in factory fires in the past five years. As previously reported by ABC News, Bangladesh has some of the cheapest labor in the world and some of the most deplorable working conditions.”

I like a bargain as much as the next person, probably more. But there is a cost, a human cost to all those super cheap deals.

I will not be taking advantage of all the awesomely cheap consumer goods to support my holiday shopping this year.

Or any year.

Join me and buy used, buy American, buy local, buy from manufacturers who certify their safe labor practices.

And keep those poor workers and their families in your thoughts. They are just as deserving of safe working conditions as you and I.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 26 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 20, 2017 · 98 comments

  1. I sold two things on eBay, one item through Instagram and am arranging a Facebook Marketplace sale of a thrifted Vera Bradley purse for later in the week.

  2. I accepted my father and step mother’s generous hospitality and spent one night at their mountain cabin this weekend. I stopped into the nearby library and bought a 50¢ Tony Hillerman paperback to read on the airplane for my NYC trip at the end of this month. It’s the perfect travel book as it’s light, cost next to nothing and I won’t need to worry about bringing it home if I finish it during the trip. I can even leave it at my sister’s library for the next reader!

  3. I finished a library book, wore thrifted clothing, created my own eBay packing materials using paper bags and cereal boxes, closed off the heat vent to my son’s room after he visited, arranged free USPS pickup service to avoid a post office trip, was reimbursed for something I picked up at Costco for a family member and wore layers instead of turning up the heat.

  4. I hit the magic number of 800 hours worked in a calendar year to earn a bonus check in January. All the “resource” RNs can earn a bonus $1.25/hour once we work over 800 hours. I’ll likely end up working around 1000 hours this year, which’ll come in extremely handy after making the next university tuition/fees payment on January 1st. By the way, this will be THE LAST double tuition payment, as my older son is due to graduate college at the end of winter term!!!

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 98 comments }

Five Frugal Things

by Katy on November 16, 2017 · 96 comments

  1. I took advantage of an opportunity for a free haircut this morning, which was perfect timing as my hair was getting long and stringy. I hooked up with this service by doing a web search for “free haircuts Portland,” which brought me to a Facebook page which I then “liked.” The offer then popped up on my feed for “complimentary haircuts this week.” These cuts were for “advanced stylist training,” so I made an appointment without a second thought. Unlike a beauty school service, (which can take an extended time) this cut took just 35 minutes from my day. I tipped $5, which then brought the total cost up to . . . $5. I also got put on an email list for future free services including color.

  2. I drove to my hospital for a one-hour continuing education class. Not ideal to drive 18 miles for a single hour of  work, but it was mandatory, it was paid and I had no choice. Unlike many of my co-workers, I chose to fill my travel mug with free crappy coffee instead of spending money to get a coffee from one of the on-site kiosks.

  3. I stopped at Goodwill on my way home from the hospital and bought a groovy vintage radio that’ll be the perfect gift for a particular person on my holiday gift list. (Or . . . maybe I’ll sell it. I haven’t decided yet.) I came across some other interesting items which I documented on my Instagram, but left in the store. (My favorite was a 1921 wedding certificate with absolutely gor-gor-gorgeous art nouveau lettering!) Edit: I sold it.

  4. I mailed out a Pottery Barn linen pillow sham that I bought because I’d needed the down insert after cannibalizing the previous one for my son’s off-campus apartment. The $14.99 I made from the sale will more than cover the cost of the pillow insert since I bought it at the pay-by-the-pound Goodwill Outlet. (Even with eBay fees and taxes.)

  5. I didn’t buy a Lear Jet or a vulgar gold-plated apartment in the sky.

Now your turn. What frugal things have you been up to?

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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{ 96 comments }

The Soccer Scarf Wall

by Katy on November 15, 2017 · 8 comments

The following is a reprint of a previously published post. Enjoy!

You all know that I’ve slowly but surely been working on redecorating and rejiggering my fifteen-year-old son’s room. Although a teenage boy is not your typical design client, I’ve been enjoying helping his room to become brighter, more organized and cheerful.

Remember the wall stripes? I’m still unabashedly in love with them. Mwah!

Goal of The Week -- After

Unfortunately, the opposite side of the room was pretty bland. Sure, it featured the cool Portland Timbers skateboard shelves, but the wall itself was lacking any pizzazz.  However, my son did have a stack of soccer scarves with potential. I put the word out on Facebook asking if any of my friends had an extra curtain rod lying around, and my friend Heather from Mile73 came through for me. She didn’t have the brackets to secure it to the wall, but I was able to scrounge a pair from my House O’ Odds & Ends. (Coming soon to a mall near you!)

Blank Wall

Look how great this wall now looks with all the scarves!

soccer scarf wall

The best thing is that’s it’s super easy for my son to remove scarves for Timbers games, and also that I spent zero dollars and zero cents on this project!

I didn’t take any close up photos, as installing a curtain rod is just a matter of getting it straight and finding the studs. Also, I have yet to research fixing my digital camera, so my less than pin-worthy photos are grainy and from my husband’s iPhone. Sorry.

I consider having no money for decor projects to be a good thing, as it activates the creative lobe in the brain. And in the end, my son gets a unique and personalized bedroom that is 100% him.

A limited budget can sometimes be a gift.

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.”

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